Malawi - Consular Information Sheet
October 11, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Malawi is a developing African nation.
Tourist facilities are limited. Aging infrastructure and lack
of investment have rendered electricity, water supply, and telecommunications
unreliable. Credit cards are not commonly accepted. While strict
dress codes are no longer in effect, travelers may wish to dress
modestly, especially when visiting remote areas.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport, return ticket, and adequate
funds are required. A 30-day visa, which can be extended up to
an additional 60 days, is issued at point of entry. There is an
airport departure tax (payable only in U.S. dollars) for all non-Malawians.
Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from
the Embassy of Malawi, 2408 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington
D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 797-1007. Overseas inquiries should
be made at the nearest Malawian Embassy or Consulate.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Spontaneous civil disturbances, primarily
related to labor and student strikes, occur but are uncommon.
U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies and street
demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
CRIME INFORMATION: Even though Malawi is known as "the
warm heart of Africa," both residents and visitors need to
bear in mind that there is a criminal element present. Carjackings
and residential break-ins are two crimes prevalent throughout
Malawi. Perpetrators of these crimes are usually well-armed and
may resort to violence with little provocation. Petty street crime
(robbery and pickpocketing) is less common, but cases have been
reported. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be
reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy
or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are basic at best.
Some medicines are in short supply or locally unobtainable. Travelers
should be aware that contrary to the frequent claims of the local
tourist industry, Lake Malawi does contain the parasite schistosomiasis,
aka bilharzia. Malaria is endemic throughout Malawi. HIV/AIDS
is also prevalent.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment
for health care services. Uninsured travelers who require medical
care overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions which differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Malawi is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Malawi's roads are in poor repair. Secondary roads may be impassable
to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles during the rainy season (November-April).
Given Malawi's high road accident rate, travelers should drive
defensively and avoid road travel outside cities at night. Road
support networks for stranded drivers do not exist.
Land routes through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean and Zimbabwe,
including the Tete Corridor, can be dangerous. Incidents of carjacking
and other violent crimes, including murder, have occurred. Four-wheel-drive
utility vehicles are targeted at a higher rate than other types
of vehicles. Travelers should plan their trip to ensure they travel
only during daylight hours. Travelers are encouraged to convoy
with other vehicles if possible. Persons traveling overland to
Malawi should contact the U.S. Embassy consular sections in both
Malawi and the proposed countries of transit to ensure that they
have the most current information.
For specific information concerning Malawi driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
the Embassy of Malawi in Washington, D.C. on 202-797-1007. For
international driving permits contact AAA or the American Automobile
For additional information about
road safety, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Malawi, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Malawi's
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at 1-618-229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Malawi's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Malawi are strict and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or
visiting Malawi are encouraged to register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Malawi and obtain updated information on
travel and security within Malawi. The U.S. Embassy is located
in Area 40, City Center, Lilongwe; telephone numbers are (265)
773-166, 773-342 and 773-367; fax (265) 770-471. The Embassy's
mailing address is P.O. Box 30016, Lilongwe, Malawi.